Oprah retired from hosting the show that was her namesake a few weeks ago. Millions of viewers watched her say goodbye and move on to her next big thing, her new OWN television network. In 2011, Oprah’s success is a given, but thirty years ago, that wasn’t the case. What decisions made her successful?


Over the past 25 years, Oprah has made a name for herself through her show, O Magazine, and now the OWN network. You recognize the names of Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus, Dr. Oz, Gayle King, authors in her book club, and so many more because she spent much of her time showcasing others.

The single greatest secret of Oprah’s success is simply that she saw the importance of creating platforms for others.

Here are a few things we can learn from Oprah:

1. Oprah is just like you and me. She’s human. Drug abuse, thoughts of suicide, weight problems, and an affair with a married man were all a part of her story.

2. She made choices. She chose not to be on the sidelines. She chose to tell the stories of others.

3. She saw value in giving other people a shot. Each interview, in front of millions of people, she gave an opportunity to those who may not have had the chance to prove themselves in their work.

4. She connected people. She introduced people and their stories to other people who need to hear them. One might say, she built community.

5. She was able to learn from others. She seemed genuinely curious to learn about others and how they lived life.

6. She was receptive to new ideas. Even ones that her audience may have disagreed with.

What can we gain from this?

My hope is not that you watch reruns of the Oprah show or become a fan. My strong hope is that you see the value in creating platforms for others. You absolutely can do what Oprah did. Be willing. Ask questions. See value in others. Get out of the way.

Leave a Reply